Friday, October 31, 2008

A Contemporary English Translation of Coptic John 1:1-18

A Contemporary English Translation of Coptic John 1:1-18
© Copyright 2006

1. In the beginning the Word existed. The Word existed in the presence of God, and the Word was a divine being. 2. This one existed in the beginning with God. 3. All things came into existence through him; without him nothing that exists came to be. What came to be 4. through him is life, the life that is the light of mankind. 5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overtake it.

6. There came a man who was sent by God, his name is John. 7. This one came to bear witness, to bear witness about the light, so that everyone may actively believe through him. 8. He was not the light, but his purpose was to bear witness about the light.

9. The real light which gives light to everyone was about to come into the world. 10. He was in the world, the world which came into existence through him, but the world did not know him.

10. He came to those who were his own, yet those who were his own did not receive him. 12. But he gave authority to become children of God to those who did receive him, to those actively believing in his name. 13. The origin of these was not flesh and blood, nor human will; they were begotten from God.

14. The Word became flesh and lived among us. We saw his dignity, the dignity possessed by a Father’s only Son; he was filled with divine loving-kindness and truth. 15. John bore witness about him, calling out and declaring, “This was the one concerning whom I said, ‘He who comes behind me has come to be ahead of me, because he existed prior to me.’” 16. From his fullness we all received life, and divine loving-kindness upon divine loving-kindness. 17. The Law was given through Moses, but the divine loving kindness and the truth came to be though Jesus, the Christ. 18. No one has ever seen God at any time. The divine being, the only Son who is in the bosom of his Father, is the one who has revealed him.

Verse 1c. Coptic, ΝЄΥΝΟΥΤЄ ΠЄ ΠϢΑϪЄ neunoute pe pSaje, literally, “the Word was a god.” Alternatively, “the Word was divine.”

Verse 14, dignity. Or, “glory.”

Verses 14, 16, 17, divine loving-kindness. Or, “unmerited favor.” (Greek, charis)

Verse 18. The Coptic text here (“divine being…only Son”) is apparently a conflation of the early Greek variant readings for this verse: monogenhs theos (Vaticanus; p66, etc.); ho monogenhs theos (Sinaiticus (c); p75, etc.) and ho monogenhs huios (Alexandrinus, etc.)

The Coptic text translated is based on the texts of George W. Horner, and J. Warren Wells (by permission).


Carl S said...

This is polytheism (the belief in more than one God) to its core. Jesus (Michael the archangel) cannot be a divine being, for there is only one divine being: Jehovah. Is the above translation trying to tell us about Jesus' quality or about his entity? If quality, then there is more than one God, which is polytheism, which is in direct contradiction to the biblical teaching of monotheism. If entity, then Jesus is God. This contemporary translation you quote CLEARLY declares Jesus (the Word) to be a divine being. It inescapably teaches Jesus is a god. The logical conclusion is that this verse teaches there are two gods, two beings with divine natures. Yet the bible through and through teaches there exists only ONE being with a divine nature: Jehovah. How then do we reconcile this verse with the whole of Scripture? What is this verse really trying to tell us? What is John trying to convey to us? And in light of that, how then should this verse be translated (word-for-word, or by meaning)?

JimSpace said...

Carl S above fails to take into account that Biblical monotheism is monolatrism, the consistent worship of only one divine person in the divine/supernatural realm inhabited by divine/supernatural persons. The one divine person who receives full devotion and worship is the almighty creator.

This is explained further at my blog:

Thus, having an Almighty God in the divine court is obviously not polytheism, but is the arrangement of monolatrism.

Interested persons can also read on my blog how Trinitarianism is an anathematic misrepresentation of Biblical monotheism.